Week 26: God Who Gives Us Courage to Stay

Monday: Genesis 26

Tuesday: Matthew 26

Wednesday: Esther 3

Thursday: Acts 26

Friday: Genesis 26, Matthew 26, Ester 3, Acts 26

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 26:

Look at how graciously God provides for Isaac! Isaac has a decision to make – there is a famine in his land. Will he go down to Egypt? Will he stay even though all seems bleak? God instructs him to stay. It’s a choice that doesn’t make much sense by most standards. Why would you stay in a land with no food? Because the Lord asked you to. Isaac trusts God and does as God instructs him, and he is abundantly blessed. He plants and harvests a hundredfold that same year! God provides for him and his family, probably in ways he never could have imagined.

We can do what God asks of us. We can follow His instruction even when it doesn’t make sense to a watching world. He will always give us what we need for what He has called us to do.

Is there a difficult place where He is asking you to stay, to press in, to not grow weary, even if it doesn’t make much sense?

Hear Him whisper to you today, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

Tuesday, Matthew 26:

This chapter is gutting and yet is so beautiful, our Savior, fully God and fully man, giving up His life for us. “Not considering equality with God something to be used to His own advantage” (Philippians 2) but laying it all down, for His Beloved, for His betrayer, for me, for you.

My words feel inadequate against the awe of this chapter. Jesus, calling the woman’s act of sacrifice beautiful. Jesus, giving thanks before He allows His body to be broken and His blood poured out for us. Jesus, serving the very one who would turn on Him. Jesus, planning to use the very one who would disown Him. Jesus, singing with His beloved just before asking the Father to please make another way. Jesus, obeying His Father in the hardest moments, for you. For me. Jesus.

Like the woman at Bethany, spend time today standing in awe of our Savior. Let the tears fall, if they come. There is no greater love than this.

Lord Jesus, may this never be just another story. May we always stand in awe of what you have done for us. May we never grow tired of this testimony, this outrageous love.

Wednesday, Esther 3

Haman seeks after one thing: his own honor and glory. I’ve been there. He shamelessly uses pride, flattery, and even bribery to get what he wants, and what he knows is wrong. Esther gives us several very straightforward examples of what it looks like to be the people of God and what it looks like to be an enemy of God.

The Jews, especially Mordecai, are a sharp contrast to Haman. They keep themselves “separate from the ways of the other peoples.” Isn’t this our call today? Isn’t this how we should live? Not conforming to the ways of the world around us but looking only to God and His word to inform our customs and our decisions? We are to live in the world but not to be of the world. We are to live with the people of the world but stand out among them because we have a joy, a peace, a confidence that is different because it is from Jesus.

Are there areas of your life where it is easier to seek your own glory and honor than to lift up others or to seek the glory of God?

Are there areas of your life where you are tempted to conform to the culture around you, even when it is in opposition to God’s Kingdom culture? (There are a lot of these for me and often they are subtle.)

Let this be your encouragement to live in the world but not of it, with the world but set apart. Ask the Lord to help you!

Thursday, Acts 26

Paul testifies again and again. He never tires of telling what God has done for him. How many times have we read this account so far in Acts? How many more times will we read it in other letters? What Jesus did for Paul doesn’t seem to ever get old or stale or boring for him. I so badly want this to be true of me.

Has the Gospel lost its luster in your life? Does it feel like the “same old story”?

I pray we would never tire of speaking of God’s goodness, both in our salvation and in the little details of our lives. I pray that we would never get over His goodness to us, that we would never stop boasting of who He is and what He has done for us!

Friday Reflections

I thought I was brave once. At 18 years old I decided to move across the ocean to a village in East Africa with a suitcase full of crayons and construction paper and a heart determined to change the world with the Gospel. I was bright-eyed and optimistic; I felt like Abraham, on the cusp of this exciting new adventure with the Lord, ready to go and do whatever He called me to in an exotic, foreign place. 

And yes, it is beautiful and brave to set off for a foreign land, to follow His calling into the new, the unknown, the exciting. But lean in close and I’ll tell you something else: sometimes the thing that is just as brave? To stay. To dig in where it seems old, familiar, and unexciting. To not grow weary in the good that He has placed right in front of you, right here, right now.

Early in my adult life God did a lot of big things. Together, we grew a big ministry and a big family in the beautiful place I now call home. He used that bright-eyed optimism, blind trust and often naivety in ways that I never could have imagined.

At the time, I did not know the beauty that would find me in a life poured out for Him, the joy of calling little ones “daughter” and pressing into Him to learn what courage really meant, the exhilaration of true and undefiled worship in a sea of people who did not speak the same language but worshiped the same God, the thrill of witnessing a life changed due to basic and simple provision of such things as medical care and nutrition assistance.

I did not know the pain that awaited me on the other side of the ocean, on the other side of humility where I would recognize just how little I had to offer. I did not know that I would carry the responsibility of looking into a mother’s face and telling her that her child was not going to live. I did not know that I would forge deep friendships with people imprisoned by addiction that I could not help them fight, no matter how I tried. I did not know that I would provide care, for months at a time, for people living with HIV, desperately begging God to spare their lives, only to later find myself holding their hands as they slipped into eternity with Him on the other side.

And I did not know that in the middle of much pain and grief and loss, I would experience a joy and a peace that far surpassed human understanding. The Lord would take the most dark and difficult places of my life and make them the places where I knew Him more intimately and deeply than I had ever fathomed possible.

Over the years of motherhood and ministry the “big” things got smaller and the loud things got quieter and as a family we settled back into a pattern of life that wasn’t quite so flashy, wasn’t quite so bold, wasn’t quite so exciting. I hung laundry on the line a lot more than I cared for the dying and I made huge pots of spaghetti and changed diapers and mediated sibling rivalries as my amazing team of Ugandan staff worked on the frontlines providing for and sharing the Gospel with our community. And on lonely nights I would tuck warm little bodies into bed and sit on the couch planning tomorrow’s spelling lesson and wonder what, if anything, I had accomplished that day.

And in the quiet, God whispered a secret: obedience is always the bravest.

He taught me that just as Mary of Bethany poured out her life’s savings in perfume over her beloved Savoir, my life poured out for Him was enough, even when no one was watching. This daily laying down of myself for my family, my neighbor, my community, was just as beautiful to the heart of God as any grand gesture or dramatic move.

I’ve wrestled as I have folded mountains of laundry with a longing to do something “bigger” for the Kingdom. I’ve wondered as I’ve chopped carrots and checked homework and wiped noses if this is what I am supposed to be doing for the Gospel. I’ve dreamt of something a little more bold, a little more adventurous, a little more exciting.

Isacc stays.

Paul shares his testimony again.

Jesus goes to the cross in obedience to the Father.

Jesus said of the woman who anointed Him in Matthew that wherever the Gospel was preached in the world, “what she has done for me will also be told.”

When I look at my children and ask myself what I want them to remember of me, what I hope that they will tell people when asked about their mother, all I want is them to picture me like that woman, all that I have poured out for Jesus, genuinely, quietly, without any fanfare, my tears of gratitude falling on His feet. I have spoken on big stages. I have built a “big ministry”. I have opened schools and I have lived in a foreign country, and I have written bestselling books. (Oh please hear my heart here, all and only by the grace of God.) But those are not the things I want to be said of me one day when I am gone. Those are not the images I want my children, my friends, and my community members to have of me one day. 

I want them to remember me here in the messy kitchen chopping that pile of carrots. I want them to remember me there curled up on the couch with my Bible. I want them to remember a warm smile when they walked in the door and a warm meal on a cold night. And most of all I want them to remember that in all of it, the big and the small, the miraculous and the mundane, my Joy was found in Jesus alone.

I want to be the one who stayed.

I want to be the one who shared about what God had done for her again.

I want to be the one who did the little things in obedience to the Father.

Friends, He might call you to something big and grand today. There are seasons for that. There are mighty works and growing ministries and miracles that are so far beyond what we can imagine. But also, He might call you to be right here. To grow those roots deep. To love extravagantly and not grow weary doing the good and the seemingly small right where you are with the people right in front of you.

And if He is, obedience is always the bravest.

Week 25: God Who Goes Before Me

Monday: Genesis 25

Tuesday: Matthew 25

Wednesday: Esther 2

Thursday: Acts 25

Friday: Genesis 25, Matthew 25, Ester 2, Acts 25

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 25:

For 20 years, Isaac and Rebekah prayed for sons, and God answered their prayers and His promise to keep Abraham’s lineage going. But when their sons are finally granted to them, will they continue to believe in the promises of God? God reveals to Rebekah that the older one will serve the younger one, which was certainly a reversal of cultural expectations. Can they believe that God will indeed go before them?

Are you having trouble clinging to some of the promises of God in your life?

List them out here and then look up scripture to remind yourself of the truth of His word. You may not see if yet, but God is always a God who fulfils His promises to His people!

Tuesday, Matthew 25: 

There He is again, throughout all of time, throughout all of history, going before us, preparing a place for us! Are we ready? Are we stewarding what He has entrusted us in such a way that if He came back today we would gladly run into His arms knowing that we have used our time wisely here on earth and are ready for new life in eternity? I don’t believe this text is meant to be scary, but certainly an exciting encouragement to live every day ready, fully trusting Him, and fully desiring to use each gift, each breath, each moment He has given us for the glory of His name!

How would you live today if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow?

We don’t know, and the Bible makes it clear that no one can know the exact time Jesus will return. This should encourage us and spur us on to love and serve. How glorious it will be on that day to be among His sheep!

Wednesday, Esther 2: 

Esther. The only book of the Bible with no mention of God and yet God’s divine favor is clearly with Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews. Can we believe for a second that the events in this book are just happenstance as they position Esther and Mordecai in the perfect position to later save their people from impending destruction? There will be no signs and wonders, no blatant miracles, and yet it is so evident that God is working every little detail together for the bigger story, the salvation of His chosen people.

Even when God is most hidden, He is here. Even when we cannot see Him, when there are no signs or wonders or miracles, He has a purpose. And that purpose is always to deliver His people, to draw them to Himself.

Is there an area of your life where you don’t see or feel God at work?

Can you believe He is in the details, orchestrating all events, big and small, for the good of His people (you!) and His own glory?

Thursday, Acts 25:

Unlike Isaac and Rebekah, Paul is sure of God’s promise to bring him to Rome to share the Gospel. Still being deterred, still being questioned, still being tried like a criminal. But Paul, faithful and true, unwavering in his trust of God and God’s plan for his life continues to share his same Gospel boldly.

I want this kind of faith! I want to finish the race in this way! If Jesus comes back tomorrow, I want Him to find me here faithfully serving my people, boldly sharing His Gospel, firmly clinging to His Word.

Lord Jesus, make us a faithful people, a people who shine like stars in the universe, holding firmly to the Word of life. Lord make us people confident that you have gone before us and give us the grace and strength to live as those just passing through, on our way to our heavenly home. We love you. Amen!

Friday Reflections:

Sometimes I think about my early days in Uganda. I lived with the most generous host family who spoke barely any English in a room smaller than my old closet. Sometimes, the loneliness took my breath away. But sometimes the beauty did, too. I think about standing on the first acre of property I purchased here, just a plot of grass with a mango tree right in the middle, the tree we would gather under for years to sing praise and study God’s Word as a community.

I had no idea.

Sometimes I think even further back to that little girl kneeling in front of a hard church pew having swallowed down bread and wine, overcome with gratitude to Jesus and bowing her head to ask God to use her little life for something, anything that would build the Kingdom. I remember the rough, pinkish upholstery on the kneeler.

I had no idea.

I think of young Esther. We don’t know much of her background other than she lost both parents at a young age, something no child should ever endure. She has grown up in exile as a minority, likely facing hardship and mistreatment. There she is in the middle of many women subjected to all kinds of beauty treatments and diets, hiding her true identity as she awaits being taken before the king.

I bet she had no idea.

No idea she would indeed become Queen, not just of her own people but of a foreign people as well. No idea that God had orchestrated all these events – the removal of queen Vashti, Esther’s appointment as the queen instead, Mordecai’s overhearing of a plot against the king, the records that wouldn’t be referenced for years – not just to save her, not just to save her family, but to save her people, God’s people. I bet she had no idea that all of these things were in fact God orchestrating the salvation of His chosen people. 

For thousands of years throughout the Old Testament, God has preserved a remnant of the Jewish people no matter how much they rebel or disobey. God’s saving work in and through Abraham’s descendants would have come to an end if God had not been in every little detail of Esther’s life and story. God’s people have endured thousands of years of persecution and hardship, and now an enemy seeks to completely destroy them.

And yet, God goes before.

I think of Esther, young and newly queen, reporting the officer’s plot to the king and giving credit to Mordecai. She was probably just trying to do the right thing, to protect her husband and maybe even herself. She may have thought it was “by chance” that Mordecai “just happened” to overhear the guard’s plans. And maybe many years later it would be “just by chance” that the king would be unable to sleep and “just happen” to ask to read the exact place in the Chronicles where it had been recorded that Mordecai saved his life.

But we serve an intentional God, a God who goes before. A God who doesn’t let things happen by chance but uses even the seemingly small to bring about His purposes.

I get teary now to think of it, in those early days in a foreign country, how I had no idea. But God knew. I had no idea of how He would answer my little heart’s cry to live a life poured out to Him, of how He would bring rich community and fellowship into my loneliness, of how one day hundreds and thousands of people of all ages and tribes would hear His word preached there on that plot of grass. I feel overwhelmed and small and undeserving as I let the realization sink in – He always knew. He had always already gone before me.

He knew when I made small steps to move here and a man from my hometown “just happened” to be visiting and when little girls’ lives “just happened” to intersect with mine that He was building my family. He knew when I walked that acre of grass with the mango tree that it would be one of hundreds of acres I would walk falling more deeply in love with this country and community each day. He knew one day I would look down the hill at that same little mango tree and it would be surrounded by classrooms, a chapel, and a clinic, surrounded with children and parents laughing and eating and just enjoying one another.

And He knows right now as I go about my day that all the other little things that just happen to crop up might indeed be shaping our future, the future He has for us, the one we can’t see yet, but we can rest in certainty that it will bring us to Him.

And you might be where I am now, looking at your family and your ministry and your very life standing in awe of the way that He worked it all together. Or you might be closer to little orphaned Esther, little me on the church-kneeler asking God to do something with her life, young me in a foreign place lonely and yet hopeful for what might come. And that’s ok. Even when we can’t see it yet, God goes before us. He is going before you now, Beloved. He is making a way. He is going to take all these pieces and He is going to weave them all together beautifully into the story He is writing.

One day we’ll look back and we will know with certainty that He has always, already gone before us.

Week 24: God Who Knows the End From the Beginning

Monday: Genesis 24

Tuesday: Matthew 24

Wednesday: Esther 1

Thursday: Acts 24

Friday: Genesis 24, Matthew 24, Ester 1, Acts 24

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 24

How often am I tempted to lower my standards, my expectation of what God will do because it just doesn’t seem possible? But Abraham is unflinching. Surely by now, he knows God will indeed provide exactly what he and his family need. Surely by now, I should, too.

Abraham’s trust seems to be contagious, because his servant, who doubted just verses before now prays a very specific prayer to the Lord. And God answers, even before He was finished speaking. We shouldn’t be surprised. This is always who God is – providing exactly what we need. Now, I am not saying He will always give us exactly what we ask for, and I am not saying He will always do it instantly as He did in this story. But what would it take for us to have the trust of Abraham, the trust of the servant, to lay it all out there to God believing He hears and He will give in accordance to His will? I like that God does not just provide for Abraham and Isaac in this story, but for the servant as well. He gives the servant what he needs to serve his master. And He does the same for us.

What do you need to ask God for more of in order to serve Him well?

Meditate on Philippians 4:19 today, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

Tuesday, Matthew 24:

“The one who stands firm to the end will be saved,” Jesus says. What an amazing picture, the Gospel of the Kingdom going out to all nations. It both fills me with awe and reminds me: we are not done yet. We are not done preaching the Gospel to each other and to the world. With our words, with our lives, with our love. May we stand firm to the end!

Who can you share the Good News with today?

Lord Jesus, make us ready. Make us a people standing firm in Your love, Your strength, Your grace. When You come on that day we have all confidence that we will see Your radiance and Your glory and that You will gather us to Yourself. Oh, what joy! Lord, may we not grow weary. May we not grow lukewarm in our love and passion for You. Make us faithful and wise servants until that day when every knee bows before You. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, Esther 1

A.W. Tozer wrote, “Our choices reveal the kind of person we are, but there is another side to the coin. We may, by our choices, also determine what kind of person we will become.” This gives great hope to me that my past mistakes and choices do not have to define me. I doubt Queen Vashti understood the far-reaching consequences of her choice not to come when her husband summoned her. The author doesn’t really reveal her motive. Maybe it was rebellion or defiance; maybe it was a conviction not to be paraded around for show. Either way, her choice set into motion a series of events that would alter the future for many.

Our choices have weight. They have consequences. And today, with the help of the Holy Spirit in Christ, we have the opportunity to determine what kind of person we will become, one small choice at a time.

What choices lie in front of you today?

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead all your steps with wisdom and discernment.

Commit James 1:5 to memory over the next several days, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Thursday, Acts 24:

There are times when we are tempted to manipulate the truth or our circumstances because we don’t quite trust that God will come through for us. But Paul tells the truth when falsely accused, trusting God alone to be His protector. For years, he refrains from offering bribes, using flattery, or altering the truth even a little bit because He knows that God is His defense.

Is there an area of your life where you feel like you need to come to your own defense?

Have you ever been tempted to manipulate the truth, bribe, or coerce to ensure a certain outcome?

Let’s ask God today to increase our faith in Him alone. Only HE can secure our future and our eternity.

Friday Reflections

In Isaiah 46:10, God declares that He “makes known the end from the beginning.” He says, “My purpose will stand… what I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially as we have passed through several seasons of lots of unknown. It seems we are always either at the beginning of something or right in the middle.

There is a reason that Paul and the writer of Hebrews repeatedly refer to life as a race, a journey requiring perseverance, strength, and above all, the help of the Spirit. But when we dedicate our next steps, our choices, our decisions, our very lives to the Lord, He will give us what we need. He will equip us for what is ahead, all the while holding the end in His loving hands.

Beloved, if you are still reading this, it’s not the end yet.

God isn’t finished yet.

I think of Paul waiting for two years in prison, having already received the promise that he would testify about Christ in Rome. I wonder if there were days when he wondered how he would get there. I think of Abraham, insistent that God will bring Isaac a spouse from his own country and family. I think of myself in my own seasons of uncertainty, when I cannot yet see what God might be trying to accomplish, when it doesn’t quite appear like God’s plans, in fact, are for my good.

I can sit in my own “middle” places and look at my little tribe feeling at a loss, overwhelmed, unequipped. But God knows the end from the beginning. And if this is the place He has called me, if these are the people He has given me, if this is the thing He has put in front of me, He will equip me for the next step, the next right choice, even if the path ahead is hazy.

In the midst of a very dark day recently, a dear friend prayed, “God, help us remember that it ends with us with You.” I clung to that phrase for days.

It ends with us with Him.

Paul can tell the truth because he knows where it will end for him. Abraham can trust that God will fulfill His promise to make him a great nation, because he knows where it will end for him.

And we can stand firm because we know where it will end for us.

Even in the middle of the darkest circumstances, even when we cannot see ahead of us on a winding and hazy path, even when it looks like no good could possibly come from this, we can trust, we can hope, we can believe. Because we know what awaits us. We know that this is not all there is.

We know this all ends with us with Him.

Week 23: God Who Prepares a Home For Us

Monday: Genesis 23

Tuesday: Matthew 23

Wednesday: Nehemiah 13

Thursday: Acts 23

Friday: Genesis 23, Matthew 23, Nehemiah 13, Acts 23

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 23:

Abraham calls himself a foreigner and a sojourner. Even after many years of living in Canaan, it isn’t fully “home.” 

Abraham knows a greater truth, that he “looks forward to the city with foundations, a city whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). And even as Abraham looks forward to his secure eternity, he lives in such a way that the people around him clearly see and know that he has a special relationship with God, that He has been set apart by Him.

We, too, are foreigners in this land. We will never be fully at home on this earth, and we shouldn’t be. We were designed for that same city as Abraham, the one where we get to behold the face of God forever. Does this change the way we live? I sure hope so. I pray that like Abraham, all those around us, whether they know our God or not, know that we love Him by the way that we live.

Is your focus today on your earthly home or your eternal one?

How does shifting your gaze to Heaven, our forever home, impact the way you live today?

Tuesday, Matthew 23:

There is firm instruction here from Jesus that cannot be ignored. I am convicted that so often I seek my own recognition, my own respect, my own honor, rather than His. I am humbled today by this call to exalt our Lord and our neighbor above ourselves. And, I am in awe of His mercy! Even in the midst of a strong warning, He longs to gather His people – us! – to Himself! He longs for us much like a mother hen desires to gather her chicks to herself and protect them underneath the safety of her wings.

His love for us, even while we were still sinners, is far beyond our comprehension.

Are there areas in your own life where you are seeking your own recognition, glory, or respect?

How can you make a conscious decision to value others above yourself?

How can you elevate the importance of God and promote His glory and respect?

Wednesday, Nehemiah 13:

Again and again we watch Israel fall back to her old patterns of sin. I wish I couldn’t relate. Does Nehemiah feel guilty as he catches his people in sin? Does he feel responsible? His plea is that God would remember him and show mercy as he reinstates the rules and repents on behalf of his community. But just as in yesterday’s text, there is God’s mercy, even amidst the direst of situations.

In verse 2, in parenthesis and easy to miss, it says this: “Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.” This is who He always is. This is what He always does. We will see Him save Israel time and time again though she continues to sin. And it is true for us, too, though we mess up and turn away and do the unspeakable, God in His mercy reaches for us, blesses us, gathers us to Himself. He really does make beauty from ashes. He does not forsake His people, nor will He ever.

Is there a habitual sin that you need to repent of today? 

Lord, have mercy on us according to your great love.

Take heart, dear one. God’s desire is still to bless you, still to call you into a relationship with Him.

Thursday, Acts 23:

In the midst of what probably looks and feels like the end, God assures Paul that it isn’t. And as we have seen over and over again in Genesis and throughout the rest of Scripture, when God promises, He keeps His promise. Paul will continue to testify about Jesus. And even when it looks bleak, God continues to equip Paul – giving him all he needs to accomplish His purposes, thwarting all the plans of Paul’s enemies (even at the last minute!), pouring out His favor through unlikely officials.

The same is true for us today! He has purpose for us and nothing – not persecution or opposition, not sickness or broken relationships or lost jobs or deep hurt – will stand in His way.

What in your life seems to be keeping you from what God has called you to?

Spend some time in prayer over that today. Believe that He who promised will accomplish His purposes in your life!

Friday Reflections

If I am honest, “home” is a topic that causes both my greatest delight, and over the years, more than a bit of angst. I think we are designed to long for a home – a safe place, a shelter from the harsh world, a place where we are nourished and comforted and can grow with those we love.

All my favorite memories are of “home” – whether gathered around my parents’ kitchen island laughing with family, or walking through the front doors of my own home to my children’s mess and chaos and laughter. I can imagine our children, crowded on the couch for a movie, holding hands in prayer around our giant farm table, running through the kitchen as I stir a big pot of soup for dinner, swinging from the trees in the backyard. I hope and pray their favorite memories will be of home, too – their favorite meal, the smoke of a bonfire on a hot, July evening, laughter too late into the night.

I love spending time and intentionality making our home comfortable and functional, a safe space that people feel welcome and safe, a place that even our grown children will want to come back to for years to come.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that; we are called to love our people and this is one way we do it.

Yet over the years, as my children have grown and many of them have moved halfway across the world to a foreign country, as my parents have aged and family events have taken place far from where I live, I have waffled a bit. Is this truly where we should be making our home?

I resonate with Abraham when he calls himself a foreigner and a sojourner, even after 60 years of living in Canaan. No matter how long I live in Uganda, there is always more to learn, I am always just barely scratching the surface of cultural understanding. And yet, when we visit the United States, we feel like foreigners there, too, hardly knowing how to keep up with a culture we have grown unaccustomed to. There is a sigh of relief when we walk back through our own front door and crawl into our own beds, but there is always a twinge of sadness about leaving our parents, brothers, sisters, and daughters on the other side of the ocean.

When I am here, there is always a subtle longing for that home, our people. And when we spend time there, there is always a longing for this home and all the people we adore in this place. The more He moves us around this world, the more and more I know the truth that I think Abraham, Nehemiah, the disciples, and Paul knew deeply – home isn’t really a place we will ever find here.

Hebrews 11 says Abraham went out, “not knowing where he was going.” By faith, it says, he went to a foreign land and lived in tents, “because he was looking forward to the city whose designer and builder is God.” It continues, “[Abraham] acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on this earth”…”they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared for them a city.”

            He has prepared for us a city.

            He has prepared for us a home.

Abraham knows it as he humbly asks the Hittites to sell him a piece of land on which to bury his wife. Nehemiah knows it as he rebuilds a city and then begs the Lord to have mercy as its people continue in rebellion. Paul knows it as he declares that to live is Christ and to die is gain. The rest of the kings and prophets mentioned in Hebrews 11 know it as they endure all persecution and hardship “so that they might rise again to a better life.”

So friends, make your home. Fill it with memories and the people you love. Fill it with praise and laughter, things that are so glorifying to the Lord. But hold all loosely. And when your kids move out or your besties move away, when you take a new job or move to a new city, when you are just feeling a bit displaced even in your own home, be reminded: we are citizens of a better country, a heavenly one.

Let’s be present to wherever we find ourselves while remembering that we are truly just passing through, on our way to that glorious place that will be forever.

Read Hebrews 11 over the weekend and be filled with encouragement by all those who have gone before us, who have forsaken all else to race toward this Heavenly home.

Shift your eyes to Heaven, beloved. This is all temporary, but our life with Him is forever.